What Can We Expect in 2023?
by Scott A, Sumner
We were able to ask The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for FedNor, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Superior North some general questions on our economy in NW Ontario and where she thinks we are headed for 2023.
How do you feel 2023 will be economically in our area?“There are a lot of really exciting things happening in Northern Ontario. When I became the MP in 2015 there was a lot of hopefulness, especially along the north shore, for some of the potential mining projects that might come up through some of the exploration happening over the last decade. Indeed that is what we are seeing. The Greenstone area is starting to really boom as that mine becomes built and operational. Now with the approval of Generation Mines next to Marathon we are posed for some rapid success.The critical mineral strategy is trying to accelerate some of the work in the Ring of Fire, which is challenging. It has to be done in partnership with Indigenous people, First Nations people rights owners and of course protecting the very fragile environment there, but there is opportunity and excitement.”
“ Thunder Bay is not just driven by the mining economy and resource extraction. There has been diversification of the economy over the last two decades, things like our medical research sector has taken off and we have made a number of announcements to support things that are medical in nature. We have a booming small business, entrepreneurship landscape and are seeing lots of people emerging in the tech space and engineering so there is a lot of work and supply chain work as well.”
So Thunder Bay has come out of the pandemic quite well?
“ There has been a lot made of what the government did or didn’t do during the pandemic but I will say this. We stayed focused on making sure we could help people recover faster when businesses resumed and that’s exactly what we did.We supported people, we supported businesses and we knew if we could keep as many businesses alive and keep as many jobs in tact that when things did resume we would have a much easier time of it from an economic perspective. That’s what we are exactly seeing across the country despite the fact we are battling inflation and so is the rest of the world. We do see in Canada is an almost fully employed Canadian labour market and the growth of our GDP is a way we wouldn’t have anticipated after Covid so these are promising signs. Do we need to do more -absolutely. Are we staying focussed on the those most vulnerable people that are struggling with the cost of living, for sure. We just have to carry on and stay focussed on the real objective which is coming out of this as intact as possible.”
There was a lot of additional money spent during the pandemic by Canada-say 500 billion ?
“ There are various different numbers out there but what was the alternative. The alternative was to let people lose their homes, get evicted from their commercial rent or there own home that they were renting. Small business would have tanked. The restaurant, the service industry really struggled with many stay at home orders imposed by provinces across the country. This was pivotal to Canada’s recovery. One could say that’s a lot of money but the alternative is an economy that would have sputtered for potentially a decade and we just knew that would be harder in the long run. In fact the federal government had the capacity to carry debt, unlike small businesses or individuals. We made that decision so we could support the economic fabric of communities through really unprecedented times.”
So Canada can afford the debt?
“In fact we can and we haven’t seen any degrading of our debt rating.We have triple A with all of the rating agencies. People are confident that Canada is in a good position to grow.Obviously we have to be careful fiscally and careful what we invest in but I think Canadians expect us to invest in their success and make sure that people that don’t have those same opportunities to succeed get a hand up. I’m an individual that benefited from social programming, federal social programming through EI and other kinds of support,Canada student loans and grants and now am able to work to my full potential. That is what I want every one to have as well. At the end of the day Canada has to be prudent and thoughtful on how we spend our money just like any othergovernment but we are in a very good space. The signs are very positive for a very strong recovery. People are fully employed and we are not seeing job losses and our business landscape is strong. We are going to keep moving forward to make sure we give everyone that full fair chance of success.